What is Brand Strategy?
Brand strategy is a plan that encompasses specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand — the combined components of your company’s character that make it identifiable. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. The biggest misconception about brand strategy: Your brand is not your product, your logo, your website, or your name.
Components of a Branding Strategy – Purpose
Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose,” explains Allen Adamson, chairman of the North America region of brand consulting and design firm Landor Associates.
While understanding what your business promises is necessary when defining your brand positioning, knowing why you wake up every day and go to work carries more weight. In other words, your purpose is more specific, in that it serves as a differentiator between you and your competitors.
How can you define your business’ purpose? According to Business Strategy Insider, purpose can be viewed in two ways:
- Functional: This concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons — i.e. the purpose of the business is to make money.
- Intentional: This concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and do good in the world.
While making money is important to almost every business, we admire that brand strategy should emphasize the willingness to achieve more than just profitability, like IKEA:
When defining your business’ purpose, keep this example in mind. While making money is a priority, operating under that notion alone does little to set your brand apart from others in your industry.
Dig a little deeper. If you need inspiration, check out the brands you admire, and see how they frame their mission and vision statements.
Brand Strategy | Consistency
The key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand. Added a new photo to your business’ Facebook Page? What does it mean for your company? Does it align with your message, or was it just something funny that would, quite frankly, confuse your audience?
In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition, which fuels customer loyalty. (No pressure, right?)
To see a great example of consistency, look at Coca-Cola. As a result of its commitment to consistency, every element of the brand’s marketing works harmoniously together. This has helped it become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
By taking the time to define and agree upon these considerations, your brand will benefit as a whole.
Emotion – Customers Aren’t Always Rational.
How else do you explain the person who paid thousands of dollars more for a Harley rather than buying another cheaper, equally well-made bike? There was an emotional voice in there somewhere, whispering: “Buy a Harley.”
Harley Davidson brand strategy uses emotional branding by creating a community around its brand. It began HOG — Harley Owners Group — to connect their customers with their brand (and each other). By providing customers with an opportunity to feel like they’re part of a larger group that’s more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson is able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
Why? People have an innate desire to build relationships. Research from psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary best describes this need in their “belongingness hypothesis,” which states: “People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior.”
Not to mention, belongingness — the need for love, affection, and being part of groups — falls directly in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which aims to categorize different human needs.
The lesson to be learned? Find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Do you give them peace of mind? Make them feel like part of the family? Do you make life easier? Use emotional triggers like these to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.
Flexibility | Your Brand strategy
In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. On the plus side, this frees you to be creative with your campaigns. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition.